The ZenO

August 7, 2008

A ‘ZenO’ is the name I gave to these snake-like growing entities in my animation ‘Music is Math’.

A zeno comprises of a ‘snake’ – the thick curved snaking line, which then randomly creates semi-circle ‘shoots’, which have lots of little stems, and on the end of each stem is either a white or black ‘dot’.

I can the make each ‘dot’ release itself at the height of growth of the shoot it belongs to, and it will swim off according to noise/oscillator values added to its velocity every frame.

Nearly everything is controlled by multiple oscillators which when offset and multiplied by each other create an organic, continually changing pathway for the snake body to follow.  The camera z depth is also hooked onto an oscillator, and also tracks a fixed point close to the head of the snake.

 There is also an oscillator which controls the general direction of everything, this oscillator takes all the zenos around in a circle very slowly, like taking the dog for walk.  I called this variable zeno – as I wanted the ability to turn down all other oscillators and leave this one on, making everything follow a perfect circle looking like the classic Japanese zen ‘O’ symbol, and this is where the name zeno came originally. 

The shading was achieved through lots of transparent ellipses layered by the hundreds onto top of each other, using noise to create positions.  There is also a white shader to create a slight glow/fog around each snake body.

The underlying idea was to create something that had its own life and mind and created its own world and imagery.  I tried to connect all the elements and variables into a holistic unity, so that by changing one thing, everything else is affected, giving unexpected but natural results.

For the video, I set up a few cue points so that the zenos gradually build with the pace of the music, for example, the black dots are only first released at the peak of the music kicking in.

I also built an interface to help me design each zeno (see below), as there where many variables to play around with.  In the end I designed two simple zenos for the video.  It took me a day to do this animation, but 5 weeks to build the system behind it!  There’s a lot more unexplored potential with this program I haven’t had the time yet to discover.  But at least the hard work is done.  Now I can have fun exploring new animations using my new toy. 


Music is Math

August 6, 2008

At last, I’ve just finished my first Processing animation, set to the Boards of Canada track ‘Music is Math’.  It’s an unfinished piece, but I need a little break now, will write more later about how it was put together.  Night.

Butterfly, Reborn.

August 4, 2008

First of all, if you’re looking for my previous animations and artwork, you can still find them on my MySpace page here.

That was my previous life.

Earlier this year, I discovered Processing, and what could be done with it, and I realised that the only way forward for me as an experimental computer animator, was to abandon my life long toolsets of 3d and 2d software (Adobe, 3ds Max etc), and begin programming my own art, creating my own unique tools.

With After Effects, 3ds Max and suchlike, your limits are practical, but with programming, your limits are theoritical, and this is the mind blowing realisation that has reduced my daily sleep by about 2 hours.

I’ve been working hard the last 6 weeks on my first animation test using Processing, and is very near completion. During this time I’ve developed my own animation system the ‘ZenO’ – you can see some test images below.  I’ll explain more about this system soon,  I should also have some video to show soon.  

This all marks the reinvention of me and my website, bye for now.